Current Leader

Aristea Saulsbury

Aristea Saulsbury
Location: McKinleyville, California Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Community/Civic Engagement, Education, Racial Justice, Social Sector/Non-Profit Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, Asian/Asian American, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Native/Tribal/Indigenous People, Rural Communities
Prevention Programming and Community Outreach Project Manager
McKinleyville Family Resource Center

Aristea Saulsbury believes that a healthy community is one in which all people have the power to make decisions and build connections with one another. Too often people who are marginalized (historically and currently) are not authentically built into the plans of organizations and governments. As a result, individuals are left to create their own networks, sometimes duplicating the work and reinforcing barriers.

Living in Humboldt County in rural Northern California, Aristea uses her skills to build bridges among communities that want to build deeper connections and effective solutions. Aristea wears many hats to accomplish this, including working at a family resource center, serving on a school board, consulting on racial equity, and parenting in an uncertain time. Work that she supports is led by the populations most impacted, including youth, Black, Indigenous, people of color, and people experiencing social and economic disadvantages. The work is constantly evolving, which is why Aristea enjoys it so much.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Storytelling for Social Change in Northern California
My project, “Storytelling for Social Change in Northern California,” recognizes that, while social change is constant, deep understanding of the steps to social change is not. Change leaders throughout Northern California have navigated their communities through challenges from colonization to COVID, focusing on increasing social equity and reducing risk factors. However, the stories about these changes often leave out the innovations, risks, and incremental shifts that lead to true, lasting systems change. “Storytelling for Social Change” will highlight the occasional big risks and consistent small acts of change leaders from historically excluded communities. Change leaders will share their learning moments and radical imaginations for the future with the rest of the community in spoken, written, and visual forms. In turn, leaders will build stronger connections with one another, support a coming generation of change leaders, and offer a model for other rural communities looking to build a more solid foundation for equity work. I hold space for “Storytelling for Social Change” to evolve as current and emerging change leaders engage. After all, those who participate in the project are collaboratively writing and telling their own shared story, too.

Aristea has an eclectic background. Academically, she has studied early childhood education, history, and organizational leadership and change. Professionally, she has served as a teacher/director of a play-based preschool, worked in project management at a development firm, and currently specializes in community outreach and engagement. She also lives between experiences as an Urban Native (a member of the Yurok Tribe). Throughout all of her experiences, however, she is focused on empathy and engagement: How do we better understand one another? How can we leave a better world for the next generation?

Click here to watch Aristea’s Legacy Project video.